We analyse the pros and cons facing the Northern Irishman ahead of this year's Augusta showdown

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Will Rory McIlroy Win The Masters?

Rory McIlroy is once again amongst the top favourites to win The Masters – so could this year be his time to finally slip on a Green Jacket and win the one Major that has thus far eluded him?

We take a look at the four-time Major winner’s chances ahead of Augusta, the plus points and the minus points, as he bids to become the first British golfer to win all of golf’s big four.

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Pros

Form

We thought Rory was in fantastic form heading into Augusta last year and he was, with seven top 10s including a win at the Players Championship.

However, perhaps he had peaked too soon.

This time around, he is certainly trending into some good form after a tough period post-lockdown.

Rory hasn’t had a top five finish in 12 starts since golf resumed in June after seven consecutive top fives beforehand.

This, to me, shows that he is due a great tournament and he will enter The Masters after a week featuring 29 birdies, his most ever on the PGA Tour, at the Zozo Championship followed by a week off to really hone his game.

He’s Ready

Still only 31 years of age, there is a strong argument to be made that Rory McIlroy is the best golfer of the current generation. But let’s not forget he hasn’t won a Major since the PGA Championship of 2014.

Since then the likes of Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka have somewhat stolen the show.

Rory McIlroy will be doing everything this year to put that right and as a Green Jacket is the only piece of the jigsaw missing, the motivation this year couldn’t be bigger.

Less Pressure?

The four-time Major winner hasn’t had eight months of build up to this year’s Masters tournament, which comes just two months after the US Open.

He isn’t even the bookies’ favourite either, as Bryson DeChambeau now tops that list.

“I like this more. There’s not as much hype, not as much, yeah, just noise. I sort of like this better,” he said.

The pressure will of course still be there but without the huge build up, no patrons on-site and his lack of wins this year, you do get a feeling that he will not be under the usual intense spotlight.

Augusta National

If you were to design a golf course specifically for Rory McIlroy, it would look something like Augusta National.

This golfing treasure rewards the very best ball strikers capable of controlling their flight to access any flag on the course.

The quality of his ball striking will prevent him from facing too many of those typically unstoppable Augusta putts.

His powerful draw and naturally high flight are the ingredients that time and again make Masters Champions.

Experience

This will be his 12th Masters Tournament and he has picked up plenty of great experience in those years.

He knows how to play the course, where to miss and where to attack.

Whilst the competition from the youngsters is extremely tough, Augusta really is a course where experience plays a huge part in victory.

That’s certainly a tick in his column.

Cons

Expectations

Whilst expectations of the Northern Irishman may have ever-so-slightly dampened, in his mind he will know just how mammoth the task really is.

Winning a Major for a golfer of his ability is more-than-doable, but the reward at the end of it is extremely great.

We’ve seen him struggle at Augusta before when in contention, most recently in 2018 when he played with Patrick Reed in the final round.

It’s going to be a mental battle for him as both he and us fans know that he’s got the game to win around the famed Georgia fairways.

He could become just the sixth man in history to complete the Career Slam – he needs to somehow put that to the deepest depths of his mind.

Meltdown

The 2011 Masters was a formative experience for Rory McIlroy.

He started the final round with the lead and despite playing relatively poorly on the front nine was still at the top of the leaderboard when he turned for home.

What happened next brought tears to the Northern Irishman’s eyes.

His long game dissolved and his score imploded on the greens. It was hard to watch.

That he put things right at the very next Major – the 2011 US Open – was hugely impressive but are there any Augusta demons still lingering.

Bad memories can take a long time to fade. We shall find out…

Putting

If Rory has a weakness it lies with his flatstick. He is streaky.

When he is on, he can putt the lights out but he is down at 63rd in the SG: Putting ranks on the PGA Tour this season.

At Augusta the test on the greens is of course, severe.

The combination of speed and slope requires a confident, self-assured approach. If Rory’s belief in his own stroke wavers, the putts will slip by and so will his chances of a first green jacket.

Six Years

More than six years have passed since he last lifted a Major trophy at Valhalla in August 2014.

Since then, he has had 11 top 10s in Majors but it’s hard to really pick out any that he genuinely had a chance to win come the 71st or 72nd hole.

He never gives up in the big events but he occasionally seems to shoot himself in the foot with a below-average round and three decent ones.

2014 is a long time ago now and he has played a lot of golf since, let’s hope he can use his experience wisely.

The competition

Rory might have the edge in experience but younger players like Collin Morikawa, Matthew Wolff and Jon Rahm are serious Major contenders.

Morikawa won the PGA Championship in just his second Major and Matthew Wolff has finished T4th and 2nd in his only two Major starts.

Former World No.1 Jon Rahm looks ready to win his first, and players like Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau are all very tough to beat when playing well.

Granted, some may say that Rory is better than all of them – he’ll need to find his A-game.

How do you rate Rory’s chances this year? Let us know on social media

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